The Igbo Elders Consultative Forum, which he leads, is badly divided, The PUNCH has learned, about two weeks after Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, a former governor of Anambra State, paid Kashim Shettima, the vice presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, a visit.
Even though the official announcement indicated that it was a courtesy visit, reports reported that it had divided members of the IECF who had previously championed the Igbo presidency and supported the Labour Party’s Peter Obi for president.
The abrupt cancellation of two news conferences that had been arranged for 1 pm on Tuesday, June 14, and Friday, June 24, 2022 at Ezeife’s home in Asokoro without an explanation fueled the division inside the organization.
Since then, the IECF has remained silent, which has increased rumors that politicians may have infiltrated its ranks.
A confused IECF member who asked to remain anonymous acknowledged the separation but was unsure whether it was actually backed by the All Progressives Congress.
He said, “I’m not sure I know what is going on among Igbo Elders. The only thing is that after those two aborted press conferences and even meetings, we decided to concentrate elsewhere and watch. There are people who came to hijack the place for the purpose of making money.
“We don’t know whether they’re being sponsored by the APC. We think he (Ezeife) was told that it wasn’t good. At that time, Igbo Elders were very vocal and they tried to divide us. We didn’t allow that to bother us because we know where we were going and doing underground work.
“But I think we have come back to our senses, we have come back from our madness. Those people actually failed, they collapsed. The APC wanted to neutralise us, but that one is now over.”
The spokesperson for the Peter Obi Support Network, Onwuasoanya Jones, said that Obi’s movement was a national one when asked about the disagreements among Igbo elders and whether they posed a threat to his ambition.
He claims that because Ezeife is an old man, he has the authority to decide whom to visit.
He stated: “Obi’s presidential project is not an Igbo agenda. His is a Nigerian project and we accede to the rights of every Nigerian to decide whom to support and whom to vote for. We believe that if competence, character and credibility are the deciding factors, Obi towers well above every other candidate in this race
“Ezeife is an elder statesman and former governor. We cannot decide for him whom to visit or not. It is absolutely within his right to visit Shettima or any other person for that matter.”